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Tourism and hospitality sector seeks help as losses reach €27m a day

The loss of international tourists to Ireland is costing the tourism and hospitality sector €27m a day.

That’s according to the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) which says 200,000 jobs are at risk if the Government does not take action to support the industry.

“Tourism is facing an existential crisis and Government must listen to industry’s concerns and take proactive action,” said Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of ITIC.

“Otherwise widespread job losses and business closures are imminent.”

ITIC has come together with all the country’s main tourism and hospitality service providers to seek five actions from the state that it says will assist the sector with its recovery and help keep firms open.

Among the measures being sought by the Tourism Call to Action are a rapid Covid-19 testing regime to allow international travel and tourism to recommence safely.

Mr O’Mara Walsh said Ireland effectively has a closed sign hanging above it due to what he described as a blunt, ineffective and flawed 14-day quarantine rule.

“The green list of countries does nothing for inbound tourism and needs to be replaced by a comprehensive and rapid Covid-19 testing policy so that tourists can enter Ireland freely and safely,” he said.

The coalition also wants an improved employment wage subsidy scheme as well as a multi-million euro package of business continuity grants.

To assist further on the financial front, the grouping wants VAT for the tourism and hospitality sector reduced to 9% and commercial rates to be waived until April 2021.

ITIC estimates that half of the 200,000 jobs that the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has projected may be lost over the coming twelve months could be saved if the Government does the right things.
Among the organisations supporting the Tourism Call to Action are the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Irish Hotels Federation and B&B Ireland.

Meanwhile, private coach operators are calling for the current payment breaks by lenders here to be extended for a further six month period with no resulting adverse impact on credit ratings of the borrowers.

Current breaks are due to expire at the end of September.

“This is particularly important for bus and coach operators, as the capital investment required is significant, with the price of coaches costing up to, and in excess of, €300,000 and accessible service buses €160,000,” said John Halpenny, Chairman of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland.

“Consequently debt levels in the sector are greater than in similar scale and type businesses.”

“With limited income from scheduled services and virtually no income from coach tourism until the summer of 2021 at the earliest, a further loan repayment freeze is critical. Indeed, a freeze should be left in place for as long as operators are experiencing a reduced income due to COVID-19.”

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